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Right Hand Ads are Gone!

What does Google’s Big Change mean for Small Businesses?

Google Desktop Searches Have you noticed a recent dramatic change in Google desktop search results? This change may effect your bidding strategy in Adwords and the strength of your organic position so read on to find out more.



Do a search on Google and you’ll notice something seems to be missing:


Google Ads Right Side No More

The right hand ads are no longer there and, unless you do a knowledge based or product listing search, there’s a lot of blank white space on the right hand side. You’ll also notice that there are now four Adwords ads at the top of the search results instead of three and, if you scroll down, you’ll find three more Adwords ads beneath the organic search results.

So why has this happened?

We all know that accessing the internet on mobile devices has exploded in popularity over the last few years with smartphones overtaking laptops as the most popular device for getting online1. It appears that Google is trying for more uniformity across all the different platforms, with the search results on a desktop now bearing closer resemblance to a mobile search.

More importantly, what does this mean for businesses?

Organic position is weakened: The result of this is that it’s getting harder for desktop organic results to have impact since they appear further down the page. With the Google Places map appearing for location based searches (like ‘car hire exeter’ above) it means that even a first position organic search result won’t be seen on page 1 until a user scrolls down. Desktop users tend to be less likely to scroll down than touchscreen users, so this is bad news for companies that rely more on organic than paid page 1 space. In 2014, a study showed that, on average, 71.33% of searches (across all devices) resulted in a page one Google organic click2. This is likely to drop on a desktop after this recent change. This recent change, combined with the prominence of the Google Places map below the 4 Adword top positions, means things are looking less rosy for organic, particularly if you’re a place based business. Whilst it might not have seemed cost effective to pay for Adwords campaigns before, the fact that your business may not appear in the listings until a user scrolls down the page may mean that Adwords is now worth investing in.

Increased Competition for Top Places: It also means that there is likely to be increased competition for the top four places. Without the existence of right hand ads to spread out the competition, the desirability of being one of the top four, and not being left to languish at the bottom of the page, is likely to be stronger, even with one extra place at the top. If your business ads previously sat on the right hand side you’ll need to increase your budget or take your chances at the bottom of the page where it’s likely that click through rates and subsequently sales and leads will go down. It’s too early to say whether Adwords costs are likely to go up for people who aimed for the top positions before this change, since there is the new fourth position at the top of the page, but it is something we’ll be monitoring here at Q Social Media and we’ll keep you updated on our findings.

We would advise in the meanwhile it's imperative you look to optimise your Google Ad campaigns and minimise wasted clicks so that you're in the best position possible if the Ad space does become more competitive and in particular if the costs do increase. If you're not sure on this look out for our next blog coming out very soon - mid-late April 16.


1  http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2015/cmr-uk-2015/

2 http://marketingland.com/new-click-rate-study-google-organic-results-102149

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